Babies and creativity - Part IV
In my last column, we saw that texture exploration begins with very young babies. Letting a young baby play with a small quantity of yogurt on his high chair tray is giving him the chance to manipulate his "first paint". I would like to talk about paint more. Before we begin, here are a few tricks which may help get you started.
The first time I painted with babies, I left the jar of finger paint open on the table. It was a large jar and one baby got hold of it and poured its content all over himself. When I think about that day, I have a good laugh! Here are some ways you can avoid messes of your own...
- Add a few drops of dishwashing liquid to the paint to make cleanup easier.
- Do not paint with 10 babies at the same time (if you are in a large daycare center). You would only end up running around with washcloths! Paint with one baby at a time throughout the week or in very small groups if babies are older. A wet mop should never be very far away, just in case.
- Prepare several washcloths ahead of time and have babies wear smocks. Give each baby a very small quantity of paint. It is best to give them more later on, if necessary.
- Use disposable tablecloths or large rolls of paper to cover your tables.
- A great trick to wash hands at the end of the activity which works well: provide a small quantity of soapy water in a large container, one baby at a time. Let the baby play in the water while you wash his hands. Once his hands are clean, remove the container.
Choosing paint and homemade variations
- Commercial: make sure it is non-toxic. The educatall online store sells great paint. There are also small containers which are great for preventing messes for babies who use paintbrushes. http://www.educatout.com/catalog/product_info.php?cPath=78_40&products_id=195&language=en&osCsid=74979fb86ae444114dd29f924b8875ad
- Homemade: visit the educatall creative recipe section to learn how to make your own paint.
- Don't forget yogurt, chocolate pudding, vanilla pudding, whipped cream, and lukewarm melted chocolate.
- Mashed baby food is great for touching, smelling, etc.
- Jell-O is very sweet but children will love exploring it. Combine Jell-O powder with a small quantity of water and let babies paint with the mixture. (You can also combine sugar, food coloring, and water. I have never tried this combination myself.)
Vary the structures (there is so much more than paper!)
I think this is the most important element when it comes to making painting fun for young babies. There is so much more than paper, preferably glossy, which can be used to exploit paint. Here are a few suggestions. Let babies paint on:
- Felt: tape the piece of felt to the table. The texture is interesting and the end result is pretty. Older babies can sprinkle sparkles using a salt or pepper shaker or put them in a container and let them pour them on the felt. One year, I glued the felt onto a piece of cardboard with a printed calendar. It was a great Father's Day gift.
- Wood: is also a great structure. At the Dollar store, you can find pre-cut shapes. You may also ask a parent to cut small pieces out of light wood. Have the parent drill a hole through which you may thread ribbon to hang babies' artwork or to add a bow for a final touch.
- A large cardboard box: is great for letting babies explore paint. It offers babies the chance to paint standing up or even to climb on top of it! (fill the box with newspaper to make it stronger)
- A beach ball: hung from the ceiling using fabric elastic. Babies paint while the ball is moving. This may be done with washable markers if you want to avoid a big cleanup.
- Paper plates: they are fun to paint. They can be hung throughout the daycare to decorate.
- Autumn leaves: I was surprised to realize that leaves are easy to paint if they aren't too dry. Pumpkins are another alternative.
- PlexiglassTM: I have never had the pleasure to explore this material. It is fairly expensive. Ask the store to make two holes in each piece so they may be hung from the ceiling. Babies will enjoy painting while seeing their friends on the other side.
- The mirror and the window: what fun it is to paint on a mirror or in a window! A little water and soap or a scraper, and paint is easily removed.
- Do not throw out your old blinds: a caregiver once told me that they represent a great painting surface.
- Frozen paint: is often used by caregivers. They freeze paint in Popsicle moulds and let children paint with them.
- Transparent paper: Use transparent document folders. Separate them so that each folder yields two sheets. Let children paint on them. Wet the other side with a wet washcloth and stick in a window.
You can make hand prints and cut them out.
I think that you now have several options when it comes to exploiting paint with babies. Do not hesitate to send us a picture of babies' masterpieces!
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